I read a blog (very intermittently kept) written by a Korean artist who writes in English, which is not her first language. Her tiny strange observations are often very beautiful and made more so by the flaws in her English, a lot more so, I think, because those flaws can be very illuminatory — that skewing of language can make you look at a thing from a whole different perspective. The accidental nature of some of the beauty she writes makes her observations fresh and astonishing.
The power I find in the way that young woman writes makes me wonder if a person can almost write more honestly and with more sentipensante in a foreign language. Does writing in your own language make you get too hung up on form and fancyness and shit and ultimately obstruct you from making feelingful meaning and meaningful feeling? I have moments when I really think this might be true.
How can a maker of any kind of art arrive at a place of technical proficiency without losing the frisson of feeling?
How can a writer be careful and precise and intelligent with words but not make writing that is prissy or fussy or uptight?
The protagonist of Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers says of his own name, “My name is Charles Highway, though you wouldn’t think of it to look at me. It’s such a rangy, well-travelled, big-cocked name.” Man, that speaks to me, with so much resonance. I want to make big-cocked writing in some ways. Not macho, not that at all. But well-travelled and rangy, yes, and unfettered. Unruly, I suppose one might say, but unruly without being undisciplined. How to achieve that is perplexing, to say the least.
I don’t have the answer to the question, nor even an inkling of what that answer might be. But one thing I am is a good tryer. So I’ll just keep doing that — trying — until I arrive at a place of wisdom. Cos if you don’t try … well, what else is there?